The term "girls' night" means different things to different people. It could be a night at home with your girlfriends watching sappy rom-coms and painting your toenails. It could mean eating tapas and drinking copious amounts of wine before cabbing it home to hubby at a reasonable hour. But for many fun-loving ladies, girls' nights are all about strong cocktails, serious dancing, and quality time with your BFFs. And there are plenty of choice places in the Holy City to get your ladies' night on.
Besides being an overall pretty place (just pick a wall for a prime group photo opp), Shine is super girl-friendly, with their Mojitos and Stilettos event the last Thursday of every month. With $5 mojitos, food and drink specials, and VIP packages with free champagne for parties of five or more, it's the perfect beginning to a night out. Add in a monthly focus on local designers and boutiques, and you've got the makings of an exciting evening. But don't just go on Thursdays; Shine is known for hosting some serious dance parties on the weekend.
Just down the street, Fish is quickly establishing itself as a dance lovers' mecca on Saturday nights. We were surprised when we heard the upscale restaurant was becoming a destination of gettin' down, but local DJs, like Natty Heavy and Ricky Lee, have been turning up the heat late into the night. Mixologist Evan Powell's delectable cocktails will keep you energized, not to mention Chef Nico Romo's tasty dim sum. And if young professional men are your bag, you'll find 'em here.
Speaking of picking up dudes, the 2009 Best of Charleston Readers' Pick for Best Pick-up Joint is Trio . The Calhoun Street bar attracts bachelor and bachelorette parties alike, not to mention general revelers. The extensive bar's various areas pull in a wide range of clientele, from downstairs' live-band listeners to the upstairs DJ scene to the outdoor patio. If you want to dance and you want options (and you don't mind a crowd), Trio is worth the $5 cover charge.
That said, a true girls' night has no room for boys ... which makes Pantheon the obvious option. Sure, there are plenty of men at the gay bar, but they'll be more likely to compliment you on your dress than your ass. Besides that, you won't find more frenzied dancing anywhere downtown.
We'll wrap up our list with a guilty pleasure: Club Light. Located in the midst of the Market/East Bay madness and boasting the crowd to prove it, Light is a fun place to dance. The DJs reliably play the songs you want to hear and sing along to, mixing it up as the night wears on. And admit it: The lit dance floor is pretty damn cool. We hear they even have a new "speakeasy" in the front, available for rental for private functions. —Erica Jackson